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Tens of thousands people and artists call for boycott of Eurovision, half of tickets not sold

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | May 14, 2019
A petition signed by over 7,000 people which asks Ireland’s Eurovision entrant Sarah McTernan to pull out of the song contest in ‘Apartheid Israel’ this week has been delivered to the singer.
Apartheid Israel
Middle East  
The signatures were collected online (6,359) and on the streets (735) over the past two months.

The delivery comes a day after Galway City Council passed a motion supporting calls for a boycott of the controversial contest, noting that “it will be openly used for political and militaristic propaganda purposes”. Galway is the third local council to make such a call.

The petition states that “while Israel, a state which has repeatedly been accused of war crimes by the United Nations and human rights organisations, and openly boasts of how it uses art and culture to whitewash its crimes, continues its oppression of the Palestinian people, no artist of conscience should participate in this ‘culturewashing’ event…

“Ireland has a proud tradition of standing with the oppressed and against injustice and we sincerely hope you will take this opportunity to stand on the right side of history by refraining from crossing the Palestinian picket line.”

Israeli TV Channel 12 reported that half of the tickets to the Eurovision Song Contest have yet to be sold, noting that this means losses estimated at two million shekels ($558,771), Al-Wattan Voice reported.

“About 15,000 tourists are to arrive in Israel,” the channel said, adding that thousands of tickets to Saturday’s finale remain unsold.

"Dear people of Iceland,

"We are citizens of Israel, opposed to our government’s military occupation, apartheid policies, and ethnic cleansing against the indigenous Palestinian people. We support the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) of Israel, until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.

"We urge you to join more than 27,000 of your fellow citizens who will be boycotting the Eurovision song contest if hosted by Israel."

Eurovision was highly affected by the international boycott campaign, which is being spearheaded by famous international artists, including Roger Waters among others.

Páll Óskar, Iceland’s Eurovision 1997 representative, called on Iceland to boycott Eurovision 2019 on conscientious grounds, saying “not just in Israel, but any time it’s hosted in countries that “break international law, violate human rights and commit bloody war crimes almost every day.”

Óskar isn’t the only former Eurovision participant to join the boycott call.

Iceland’s Eurovision finalist for 2017 Daði Freyr, 2017 Iceland National Selection Hildur Kristín Stefánsdóttir, eight-time Eurovision commentator Mike Murphy of Ireland, and Irish Eurovision winner of 1994 Charlie McGettigan, Australian 2018 Eurovision judge L-FRESH The LION, Finland’s 1991 finalist Kaija Kärkinen and 1991 finalist Kyösti Laihi- are just some of the names of 140 artists, from all over the globe, including Israeli artists, joining the boycott of Eurovision in Israel.

Other world-renowned artists on the artists’ letter include Eve Ensler, Ken Loach, Mike Leigh, Julie Christie, Brian Eno, and Roger Waters.

Unions, political parties, and public figures have also weighed in, calling for a boycott of Israel.

In Ireland, the Musicians Union of Ireland (MUI) and Irish Equity (the trade union for actors, dancers, directors, and stage and set builders and designers) both joined the campaign, alongside the Sinn Féin party, and the Mayor of Dublin who pledges the city’s support of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.

In Sweden, the Left Party Malmö demands the exclusion of Israel from Eurovision “on humanitarian grounds.”

Fatin Al Tamimi, chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a member of the ‘Irish Campaign to Boycott Eurovision 2019 in Apartheid Israel’, said that the “campaign is disappointed that despite repeated attempts to reach out to her, including letters from Palestinian artists, Irish artists, Israeli activists and artists, LGBTQ+ activists, and Irish anti-apartheid veterans, Sarah McTernan has chosen to go ahead with her participation in the Apartheid Eurovision.”

Pop star Madonna has rejected calls for her to boycott this year’s Eurovision song contest in Israel, saying she will “never stop playing music to suit someone’s political agenda.”

Madonna issued a statement on Tuesday, ahead of her expected arrival in Tel Aviv for a performance at the Eurovision event.

Madonna said her “heart breaks every time I hear about the innocent lives that are lost in this region and the violence that is so often perpetuated to suit the political goals of people who benefit from this ancient conflict.”

Wolf Alice have joined a growing number of artists to back a boycott of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.[break]

The Mercury Prize-winning band spoke to Sky News, where they accused Israel of “weaponising culture” and of being “serial human rights abusers”.

Wolf Alice guitarist Joff Oddie claimed that the country was using Eurovision and wider culture to “whitewash over their human rights abuses”, and said the boycott was a response to “a call from Palestinian civil society”.